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Periods / Ali Horsfall

Meet The Incredible Woman Breaking Period Taboos In Parliament

The last place (sadly) we’d expect to hear a bit of honest period chat is in the Houses of Parliament, so imagine our delight in hearing that an MP has been breaking taboos and making parliamentary history by becoming the first woman to talk openly in parliament about being on her period.

During a House of Commons women’s and equalities debate, Scottish Labour’s Danielle Rowley apologised for being late saying she was on her period and that it had cost her £25 so far this week.

The debate discussed the cost of sanitary products, which many women find unaffordable and Rowley, the MP for Midlothian, called for action.

“We know the average cost of a period in the UK over a year is £500. Many women can’t afford this. What is the minister doing to address period poverty?” she asked.

The UK government is under pressure to follow the lead of the Scottish parliament and offer free sanitary products for women on low incomes.

According to a study by UK Plan International, one in 10 girls in the UK are unable to afford sanitary products, with many resorting to using newspaper, socks or toilet paper as sanitary protection, when they have their period.

Women and Equalities Minister Victoria Atkins said the Government had invested £1.5 million in the Brook Young People project, Let’s Talk Periods.

“The government is committed to removing the VAT rate on sanitary products when we leave the EU, which will help with the cost,” she said.

The shadow women and equalities minister, Carolyn Harris, offered: “Why is the UK government failing to provide support to tackle this growing problem, and leaving it to charities and individual groups like Beauty Bank[s], a cosmetics equivalent of food banks, to fill the gap?”

Rowley was congratulated by other MPs following the debate, and she responded to comments on Twitter by light-heartedly saying: “My cramps are pretty epic to be fair. #endperiodpoverty”.

When asked why she chose to speak out about her own period in parliament, Rowley told the Mirror that it was spontaneous, but that “it’s something that’s really important but isn’t really spoken about enough.”

She added: “I think there is still a taboo. I talk about my period quite a lot, I will talk about it to male friends and colleagues, and generally it’s fine.

“But I think sometimes, if you are talking about it perhaps with older men or women, there’s a bit of ‘oh, why are you saying that?’.

“I hope me talking about it in the chamber will help break down the taboo and help give women more confidence.”

To show your support in tackling period poverty, get your hands on a Pink Parcel I’M ON t-shirt, here. £5 from your purchase will being donated to Bloody Good Period which aims to create a sustainable flow of period essentials for those who can’t afford to buy it.


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